Training camp is finally almost here. They allow tackling there and everything. Around the League will count down the top 30 position battles to watch throughout the preseason.
â¢ Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have raised the bar. This position battle ranks so high on our list because this isn't just about two rookies battling for snaps. It's about the Indianapolis Colts expecting their young tight ends to be a big part of their offense.
â¢ The question is how much Fleener and Allen can help the Colts right now. Fleener was drafted high in the second round, while Allen went in the third round out of Clemson. Fleener more likely will line up all over the field, but both guys can catch the ball. Both players have a realistic chance to start from Day 1.
â¢ When normally sober preseason publications like Football Outsiders peg Fleener to gain more than 700 yards receiving, you know that expectations have changed at tight end. That's a lot to ask out of a rookie when the entire Colts tight end position gained fewer than 600 yards last year. Even if that rookie played with fellow rookie Andrew Luck at Stanford.
â¢ Allen lined up as a starter at the team's minicamp, in large part because Fleener missed so much of the offseason while Stanford finished classes. Fleener and Allen aren't really competing with each other as much as expectations. The Colts are very thin at wide receiver. The tight end depth behind the high draft picks is weak.
There is enough playing time for both of them to have a big role right away; they just need to show they are NFL-ready on Day 1.
Projected winner: Allen. We just have a hunch Allen is a little more pro-ready. Ultimately, both players should play early and often while the rebuilding Colts take their lumps.